Microsoft has announced a dozen grants to help scale the operations of entrepreneurial businesses and boost affordable Internet access in communities around the world.
Awarded through the company's Affordable Access Initiative, part of a commitment by Microsoft and Microsoft Philanthropies to invest $1 billion in efforts to bring cloud technology to people who lack access to the Internet, seed grants ranging from $70,000 to $150,000 were awarded to social enterprises in eleven countries, including Argentina, Botswana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda, and the United Kingdom. In addition to their cash awards, grant recipients also will receive access to a global network connecting them with peers and mentors; an invitation to participate in annual summits and monthly virtual meetings; ongoing support from Microsoft’s research and development team; cloud product donations and training; and access to digital literacy, online safety, and computer science education programs through Microsoft Philanthropies' global YouthSpark initiative.
"With more than half of the world’s population lacking access to the Internet, connectivity is a global challenge that demands creative problem solving," said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft. "By using technology that’s available now and partnering with local entrepreneurs who understand the needs of their communities, our hope is to create sustainable solutions that will not only have impact today but also in the years to come."
For a complete list of grantees, see the Microsoft website.